I was 10 when Human Touch came out. The whole thing sounded kind of weird. But this song was an immediate favourite. It still is. Now, 28 years later, I can see why.
Hearing that opening line, ‘Ol’ catfish in the lake we called him Big Jim”, was about as foreign to me as anything I’d ever heard. What was a catfish? What did it look like? How big could it be? I knew what a lake was, but I don’t think I’d ever seen one in person. I never skipped church, I’d never gone fishing. Well, I had, with my dad, but it was always him doing everything and me watching.
That music and those words always transported me to a world that was completely alien to me. A swampy, mystic, warm place full of heartbreak and, for some reason, dread.
This is a Twilight Zone episode with very dark undertones. The trumpet seems to play the role of announcer of bad news, a Greek chorus belting out to the world the misfortunes of the protagonist.
And then, in the end, the protagonist thinks he’s found hope in the eyes of someone whose waters will quench his thirst. The poor bastard thinks he’s found love. But he seems to have forgotten for a moment that with every wish, there comes a curse. And when he remembers, when he realises how foolish he’s being, he can’t even finish the goddamn sentence.